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SME SOS: Helping small businesses use digital advertising is key to recovery

SME SOS: Helping small businesses use digital advertising is key to recovery

Credit: Joshua Rodriguez

Jon Mew, CEO | Internet Advertising Bureau

3 min read Partner content

Just as it played a central role in growing the UK’s strong SME marketplace, digital advertising can now play a crucial role in keeping small businesses resilient and aiding their recovery.

With its accessibility and affordability, digital advertising has played a significant part in fuelling SMEs’ growth - and vice-versa.

It’s a symbiotic relationship that has helped to establish the UK’s digital ad market as a world leader and given rise to a diverse and dynamic SME economy. However, since the COVID-19 outbreak began, ‘business as usual’ has been tougher than ever.

So, with the recession and the pandemic showing no signs of abating, how can digital advertising help small businesses weather the storm and recover?

The benefits of continuing to advertise during an economic downturn are well proven by marketing experts - leading industry research shows that businesses that maintain, or if possible, increase market spend emerge stronger. With this in mind, IAB UK - the industry body for digital advertising - conducted research to understand how SMEs feel about the future, how they are currently using digital channels and, crucially, what support we can give them to help them get the most out of the money they invest.

Our ‘Powering Up’ study, which draws on evidence from nearly 1,200 UK SMEs, shows that 64% are concerned about the future of their businesses and, crucially, 70% feel it is more important than ever to communicate with customers about their services.

Our challenge now is to spread the word, which is why we’re asking you - our MPs - to communicate with the small businesses in your constituencies and help make them aware of the support that is available.

What’s more, half say that digital advertising is more important to their business now, in this time of crisis. 

However, SMEs could be getting more out of digital advertising, and they want to know how.

40% are not investing in digital advertising at all and, among those that do, the average amount of channels used is just 1.3.

Why? The complexity of digital advertising and a lack of skills were cited as common obstacles, while the call for more digestible, straightforward guidance was loud.

To answer this need, we’ve launched an online interactive tool that pulls together jargon-free advice, guides and case studies to support SMEs at this critical time.

Catering for a range of campaign objectives and budget levels - ranging between £500 and £5 million - our aim is to provide objective, tailored advice on how to get started and what to expect at each stage of the digital advertising process.

In short, it’s a one-stop-shop to help SMEs take advantage of what digital advertising has to offer.

Our challenge now is to spread the word, which is why we’re asking you - our MPs - to communicate with the small businesses in your constituencies and help make them aware of the support that is available.

Just as it played a central role in growing the UK’s strong SME marketplace, digital advertising can now play a crucial role in keeping small businesses resilient and aiding their recovery.

Read more about our research and the development of the tool here.

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